It is so nice to have people over during the holidays. It’s a time when you can actually sit and enjoy your company instead of running around and being crazy stressed out. By the time the big day arrives however, you are usually too tired and weary to enjoy the food and the company. Here are a few tips that I have learned over the years that will help you enjoy your celebrations with your love ones. If this blog reaches you a little too late to plan for Thanksgiving, use it to plan for Christmas and the New Year celebrations and all the other holidays throughout the year.
This is the biggest! Plan way ahead of time like 2 months out. Get your invitations, guest list with phone numbers and email addresses all lined up. 30 days prior to the holiday, send out the invitations and/or emails. Be prepared to follow up with a phone call to those who plan on coming but haven’t responded yet.
This one is huge also! As we all know the menu is one of the most stressful things to accomplish! By planning ahead and creating your menu early you will know exactly what items you need to buy. Every time you go to the grocery store, pick up an item or two, especially if you see it. Don’t talked yourself out of buying it by saying, “It’s too far out. I shouldn’t buy it this early.” If you see it, it’s meant for you! Get it! You will be amazed how buying an item here or there before the big day can relieve the hassle of buying everything all at once. Buying it a little bit at a time and storing the items, like freezing the meat for example, are life savers.
2 weeks prior to the big day, send out another email/phone call reminder. Get a commitment from your guests about what dish they are bringing and let them know how much will be needed. If it’s a large gathering, so as not to overburden anyone, have more than one person bring a particular dish.
If you have adult children at home or even children in college who come home for the holiday, get them involved. Don’t, I repeat, don’t do all of the work yourself. You will be amazed at how easy and care free the cooking can be when you share it with others. I remember when I started having my children help me in the kitchen. I began to share the responsibility and my life in the kitchen during the holidays became a breeze. I kept saying to myself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Sometimes as mothers, we think we have to do it all. Sure the children are used to Mama doing everything and loves Mama’s cooking… but guess what, children grow up and mama needs a rest! So be sure you share the responsibility. In my home someone bakes, someone make a favorite side dish and I usually end up cooking the main meat and maybe a few more side dishes. My children and I have learned how to navigate the kitchen with all hands on deck!
If you are making beans or greens-and if you are African-American, you will be making beans or greens! (lol). Make them at least 3 days ahead, and freeze them. Better yet, the night before, put them in a slow cooker and let them cook over night if you are the type of person who like to have things freshly made.
2 days before, do your heavy chopping if you need lots of vegetables like garlic, onions, celery, bell peppers, etc. and place them in a sealed, airtight container.
The night before, decide how you want to lay out your food. For example, identify where the dessert table will be, the drink table, etc., if you are dining buffet style which is my favorite way to do it. We don’t do formal dining in my house.
The day of the big event, get up, stroll into the kitchen, and make a nice breakfast. The heat is off, you’ve got everything under control. Finish your breakfast, clear away the dishes and begin your final details. Leave enough time so you can shower, change clothes and relax a little before your guests arrive.
Almost forgot, have a runner. A few days prior, identify a person who will do the last minute running around when you don’t have enough of xyz....In all honesty, that’s usually the husband’s job. Men, accept your fate! Resistance is futile! The same goes for teenagers who don’t cook but have a driver’s license: the last minute running around is their contribution!
See how preplanning can save the day! It alleviates a lot of last minute worry and stress.
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